February 2, 2023
Heat Pump in Fox Valley, WI

If you own a home here in Appleton, WI, you probably already know that heating costs represent a good share of your home’s yearly energy bills. Unfortunately, adjusting your thermostat lower to save money can also impact your overall level of comfort in your home. The good news is that there’s a better way. Installing a heat pump to provide for your home’s heating needs can save you money on operating costs without sacrificing any comfort. However, you must install the right size heat pump to enjoy those benefits. Here’s why heat pump sizing is so important and how you can make sure to buy the right size heat pump for your home.

The Basics of Heat Pumps

To understand why using the right size heat pump matters so much, you must first know a bit about how they work. Heat pumps, unlike conventional heating systems, don’t use energy to create heat for your home. Instead, they use the effects of the refrigeration cycle to capture heat from the outside air and carry it into your home. The only electricity they consume goes to facilitate that heat transfer process.

As a result, air-source heat pumps can achieve efficiency rates as high as 400% in ideal conditions. When the temperature drops, so does heat pump efficiency. For most heat pumps, efficiency starts to decline when the outside temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Below those temperatures, they will still deliver heat to your home, but they will work harder to do it. When the temperature drops too low, however, some heat pumps engage a built-in electrical resistance heater to provide auxiliary heat.

Another thing to remember about heat pumps is that, unlike conventional heating systems, they don’t cycle on and off very often. Whereas a natural gas-powered furnace will come on every so often to boost your indoor temperatures, heat pumps run continuously to keep the indoor temperatures stable. That’s another key to their efficiency. Since they don’t need to handle big indoor temperature swings, they are able to operate more efficiently. However, choosing the wrong heat pump size can change the efficiency equation in a hurry.

The Effects of an Improperly Sized Heat Pump

There are a few reasons that it’s essential to choose and install the right size heat pump for your home. The most obvious one is comfort. If you choose a heat pump that’s too small, it won’t produce enough heat to keep your home at the temperature you want. That would leave you in a challenging position. You could either lower your thermostat to a temperature that your too-small heat pump can handle, or you can leave it at your desired temperature and allow the heat pump to use its electric resistance heater to compensate.

The trouble is that a heat pump’s electric resistance heating system is not meant for continual use. It’s there as an option of last resort so that your home won’t go without heat on frigid days. However, a heat pump is not intended to run in that mode continuously because it experiences increased wear and tear that could damage the system. Additionally, you would be giving away all of the efficiency gains that make heat pumps so sought-after in the first place.

It’s also a bad idea to install a heat pump that’s too large for your home. The reason has to do with how heat pumps operate. Since they are most efficient when running continuously when in heating mode, most heat pumps include variable-speed blower motors and compressors. That allows them to raise or lower their operating speed to meet your home’s heat demands. That guarantees that they always use as little electricity as necessary to heat your home at any given moment. If your heat pump’s too large, however, its lowest speed may still be too fast for what you are asking the system to do. Then, your heat pump will cycle on and off like a conventional heating system, and it will cost more to operate with no comfort gain whatsoever.

How to Choose the Right Size Heat Pump

There’s no clear-cut equation that you can use to pick the perfect size heat pump for your home. Everything from the height of your home’s ceilings to its insulation and your personal comfort preferences can play a role in the decision. That’s why experts like the technicians here at Black-Haak undergo so much training and must gain practical experience in the field to know how to advise homeowners on heat pump purchases and other HVAC needs.

When they evaluate a home for a new heat pump, they’ll use criteria developed by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to complete what’s called a Manual J residential load calculation. It’s a very precise way to determine exactly what size heat pump a home needs to meet its heating and cooling needs. Unfortunately, it’s not something we’d advise you to try and do yourself.

There are, however, a few rules of thumb you can use to get a general idea of what size heat pump your home needs. The simplest way is to use your home’s square footage as a guide. Most homes require around 12,000 BTUs of heating or cooling power per 500 square feet. When you look at heat pump systems, you’ll often see their sizes expressed in tons, though. A one-ton heat pump system will provide 12,000 BTUs of heating or cooling power.

Remember, however, that you won’t necessarily find a heat pump with the exact amount of capacity your home needs. You’ll want to round up to the next available size heat pump if that’s the case. It’s better for your heat pump to be slightly oversized rather than to run the risk of it not providing sufficient heat for your home.

Consult Appleton’s Heat Pump Experts

The bottom line is that it’s very important to choose the right size heat pump for your home. If you don’t, you’ll spend more money on operating costs than you should, and your home may not be as comfortable as it should be. That’s why it’s a good idea to consult the heat pump experts here at Black-Haak before you make any decisions.

Our team can tell you exactly what size heat pump your home requires, so you’ll get the most out of your investment. We provide comprehensive installation, maintenance, and repair services for heat pumps and HVAC systems of all kinds. Plus, we can also see to all of your home’s plumbing and electrical needs, too. We’re also the only company around that offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy with something we’ve installed, we’ll remove it and give you your money back within one year of your purchase, no questions asked.

If you’d like to find out what size heat pump your Appleton home needs, contact Black-Haak today!

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